Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Go along to your nearest Vodacare outlet and drop your old or damaged cellphone or cellphone accessory into the specially marked bin.
Most of the materials in your cellphone can be recovered. They can be used to make new products, and, in the process, help to protect the environment. Nokia estimates that if every cellphone user recycled just one old cellphone, nearly 240 000 tons of raw material could be saved.
To assist South Africans in safely disposing of their old cellphones, Vodacom and Nokia have launched take-back programmes. Both companies have stationed special bins in outlets across the country; Nokia has placed bins in about 35 locations and Vodacom in all Vodacare outlets nationwide.
Vodacare goes Green
Vodacom, South Africa’s leading cellphone network operator, has also embarked on a programme to show that the company can make a difference to the environment.
It has introduced a waste disposal process through Vodacare, allowing customers to dispose of all their unwanted cellphones and accessories in an environmentally friendly way.
"The take-back initiative has been positively received by our customers, as well as the general industry", says Executive Head of Vodacare, Samantha Dippenaar. "This initiative forms part of Vodacom’s environmental awareness responsibility, and the ‘take-back’ initiative forms part of this long-term commitment."
Vodacom believes that education and awareness in the area of waste management is becoming increasingly important from a global perspective and, together with the continued support of customers, they can make a difference to the environment and help to create a better place for all to live in.
Nokia scores with Greenpeace
In 2008, Nokia ranked the highest in Greenpeace’s annual survey for the Guide to Greener Electronics, largely for its comprehensive voluntary take-back programme which spans 124 countries, providing almost 5000 collection points for end-of-life cellphones and other mobile gadgets.
The world’s leading cellphone manufacturer also scored very well on toxic chemical issues. All new Nokia cellphones launched since the end of 2005 have been free of PVC, while it is also aiming to have all new models free of brominated flame retardants and antimony trioxide by the end of 2009.
Samsung gets green with Blue
Designed to symbolise a flat and well- rounded shiny pebble, Blue Earth is the first solar-powered full-touchscreen cellphone. It is made from recycled plastic water bottles and is free from harmful substances. The eco-friendly cellphone was launched at the annual Mobile World Congress, which was held in Barcelona in February 2009.
What happens next?
Once the bins have been filled, they are sent via courier to the Vodacare Head Office, where the waste products are separated and sorted into the correct groups such as cellphones, accessories and batteries.
Vodacare destroys all collected cellphones
On receipt of your old or damaged cellphone, a certified destruction agent punches a hole through the main board of the cellphone in order to ensure that it is scrapped and cannot be re-used.
The cellphones are destroyed by punching a whole right through the device
A Vodacare Recycling and Waste Management supplier then collects the full bins, which are weighed and signed for to ensure that nothing is removed during transit. An appointed Vodacare staff member also accompanies the Recycle and Waste Management supplier to its premises to witness the disposal of the waste products.
At the premises, the Vodacare agent witnesses the removal and sorting of the various components, such as non-ferrous and ferrous metals, plastics and PC boards, from the handsets.
Once these components have been sorted into their various categories, the metal components are melted down and the refined metals are then re-entered into the market. The balance of components disposed of into the materials granulator, which is the safest and most environmentally responsible way of disposing of these products.
[ Source :: www.vodaworld.co.za ]
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Source: Copyright 2009, Guardian
Date: February 18, 2009
Byline: Ian MacKinnon
A year-long freeze on the use of peat land for palm oil plantations was quietly lifted by Indonesia, fuelling fears of a rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
The government had been pressed to maintain the ban by environmental groups, but Indonesia's agriculture ministry said that tighter controls will be placed on the issuing of new permits, which were withheld since December 2007 under the ban.
Greenpeace estimates that Indonesia's peat land locks in 37.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide - a significant global store of carbon. As this peat land is cleared and drained to grow palm oil, millions of tonnes of CO2 is released into the atmosphere.
A report by the World Bank abd Britain's department for International Development said defporestation, forest fires and peat land degradation were responsible for up to 84% of Indonesia's carbon emissions.
What Indonesia is certainly taking into account is that it is the world's largest producer of palm oil with 7.1m hectares of estates planted, generating an exports revenue of £7.64bn in 2008.
Interesting developments in Sustainable Palm Oil Production
Source: Copyright 2009, Telegraph
Date: February 18, 2009
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is launching a task force to help sectors including farming and the water industry meet goals to produce energy from anaerobic digestion, which generates gas from the break down of organic material without oxygen.
More than 100 million tonnes of organic material is produced by the UK per year that could be used to produce biogas.
Speaking at the NFU conference in Birmingham today, Farming and Environment Minister Jane Kennedy is expected to say: "We're producing more organic waste in this country than we can handle, over 12 million tonnes of food waste a year - and farmers know too well the challenges of managing manure and slurry.
"There are alternatives to sending organic waste to landfill. Anaerobic digestion is a true solution.
"This material could produce enough heat and power to run more than two million homes - helping to prevent dangerous climate change by providing a renewable energy source as well as reducing our reliance on landfill.
"Farmers, I know, share this vision of making the UK world leaders in this innovative technology and I applaud their aim for 1,000 on-farm AD plants by 2020 to power their operations, as well as using the leftovers as bio-fertiliser."
Read the full article on the Telegraph
4 February 2009
(Cape Town, South Africa) - Legalising greyhound racing will only worsen an already out-of-control animal welfare crisis the South African government has been warned.
The Department of Trade and Industry kicks off a second round of public consultations this Friday to gauge opinion on possibly reinstating legal greyhound racing in South Africa. Greyhound racing has been banned in South Africa since 1945.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) said South Africa already found itself in an escalating animal welfare crisis.
“The ngo community, which is largely charged with caring for animals in disadvantaged communities, is overwhelmed and simply can’t keep up with overpopulation, disease control and malnutrition,” said Christina Pretorius, Head of Programmes for IFAW.
“That’s just one part of the crisis. The fact is that South African authorities don’t have the laws, or the manpower to manage illegal activities such as dog fighting and puppy mills – tasks that are left to animal welfare ngos to sort out. Under the circumstances it is inexplicable how they can even consider legalising greyhound racing.”
IFAW said that re-introducing greyhound racing under the poor socio-economic conditions that affect much of the country’s populace would lead the dogs to be seen as expendable commodities.
“By encouraging the idea that one may profit from racing greyhounds, illegal racing will spiral out of control in disadvantaged communities,” said Pretorius.
“Additionally, greyhounds that have reached the end of their usefulness as racing dogs (from two to four years old), will be relinquished further adding to the burden of animal welfare organisations and encouraging a destructive cycle of animal abuse.”
IFAW’s projects in South Africa – Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) in Johannesburg, and Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayalitsha outside Cape Town report that they regularly come across large numbers of greyhounds.
“These dogs are usually used illegally, for poaching small buck and game for the pot, and dogs are regularly transported across provincial borders without the required vaccines to reach favoured poaching spots. It is common that dogs are gored, have broken legs or are run to ground while hunting,” said Cora Bailey, founder of CLAW.
“The dogs are often kept in squalid, overcrowded conditions. At various hostels in Johannesburg, it is not unusual for us to find anything between 100 and 200 greyhounds living in appalling conditions.
“Under the current circumstances it would be disastrous to legalise greyhound racing.”
Public consultations will take place on the following dates and venues:
- 6 February 2009, 09h00-12h30, Protea Edward Hotel, Durban
- 13 February 2009, 09h00-12h30, Protea Seapoint Hotel, Cape Town
- 20 February 2009, 09h00-12h30, Protea Marine Hotel, Port Elizabeth
- 26 February 2009, 09h00-12h30, Garden Court Hotel, Bloemfontein
- 27 February, 2009, 09h00-12h30, Protea Manor Hotel, Hatfield, Pretoria
- 6 March 2009, 09h00-12h30, Garden Court East London, Esplanade, East London
- 13 March 2009, 09h00-12h30, Willows Garden Hotel, Potchefstroom
For media-related inquiries, contact:
Christina Pretorius (IFAW, Southern Africa)
Tel: +27 21 424 2086
Mobile: +27 82 330 2558
11 February 2009
(Whittlesea, Australia) - The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org ) has sent an Emergency Relief team to help wild and domestic animals affected by the devastating fires in Victoria, Australia.
The team, led by IFAW Emergency Responder, Tania Duratovic, arrived on the scene yesterday and has hit the ground running by helping local wildlife carers with search and rescue operations, providing treatment, food and vet supplies.
Working alongside local group Help for Wildlife, the IFAW team has already treated a variety of animals ranging from horses, dogs and goats to koalas, wallabies, a lyrebird and even a dingo.
“Thousands of wild and domestic animals have been killed or injured by the fires and heat. Our priority is to work with the local community, carers and vets to help rescue and treat as many survivors as possible and get them on what will be a long road to recovery,” Ms Duratovic said.
“Some people only just managed to make it out with their beloved cats and dogs alive while others were forced to leave pets and livestock behind. For some people their animals are all they have left - rescuing and treating them will go some way towards helping these people find comfort after this disaster and get back on their feet,” Ms Duratovic said.
One of the team members is IFAW volunteer, Dr Howard Ralph, who is a renowned vet, burns specialist and human doctor, and is already helping local vets to treat pets at the survivors’ shelter in Whittlesea.
The key to rescuing as many animals as possible is for organizations and the local community to work together. IFAW is working alongside local wildlife groups such as Help for Wildlife and Wildlife Victoria and the RSPCA. As well as on the ground support IFAW has provided immediate assistance through emergency grants for carers to help them to operate in the disaster area, conduct search and rescue and coordinate food supplies for the animals that escaped the fires but are now without a food source.The IFAW team in Whittlesea is also providing a valuable information service for emergency workers are also seeking advice on what to do if they come across injured animals.
For media-related inquiries, contact:
Michael Booth (IFAW, Headquarters)
Imogen Scott (IFAW, Australia)
Tel: +61-2-9288 4993
Friday, December 5, 2008
In the year 2000 the human inhabitants of Earth reached 6 billion. Now, in 2003, there are 6.1 billion of us. And not only is the world population increasing, the rate at which it is growing has also been increasing. The above table illustrates this, including the great acceleration over the past 200 years. It forces us to ask the sustainability question: What will happen if the human population continues on its current growth path?
Growing populations are faced with the harsh reality of limited natural resources. The issue of water supply is a good example to demonstrate that unrestrained population growth is not sustainable. Consider this:
1. Water, like other natural resources, is not evenly distributed around the globe. The countries described as ‘developed’ or ‘industrialised’ have in general more abundant sources of water, or the technology to use water more efficiently.
2. The supply of fresh water is essentially fixed. While technical means are being explored to increase the supply of fresh water (such as Desalination) their impact is likely to be limited.
3. We are already consuming close to the planet’s limits. Worldwide, 54% of the annual available fresh water is already being used. This may seem to leave a lot to spare, but scientists have demonstrated that we need to leave a certain volume of water in rivers and other wetlands as an ecological ‘reserve’, in order to maintain their functional viability. When we use up this reserve, we destroy these ecosystems and reduce the overall available volume of water.
4. This level of use (54%) is based on unequal consumption: Around the world, some 1.1 billion people do not have access to fresh water, or consume less than the basic daily requirement
of 50 litres.
5. Population growth will also result in greater volumes of pollution. In developing countries, 90–95% of sewage and 70% of industrial waste are dumped into surface waters thus polluting the water supply. Water quality is also affected by chemical run-off from pesticides and fertilisers and acid rain from air pollution, requiring expensive, energy-intensive processes to clean it for human use. In a recent case in Brits, residents could not use council water because of pollution in the Hartbeespoort Dam. Pollution clearly decreases the volume (and increases the cost) of available water.
A child born today in an industrialised country will consume more and pollute more in his or her lifetime than 30 to 50 children born in a developing country.
In 2000, 508 million people lived in 31 water-stressed or waterscarce countries. By the year 2050, this will have rocketed to 4.2 billion people living in countries that cannot meet the minimum requirement of 50 litres of water a day.
Water is not only a basic human need, without which we die. It is also the basis of health, food security and economic development. For individual families, lack of access to clean water is associated with unhygienic living conditions, already one of the biggest causes of deaths among infants. On a national and regional level, cash crops and other industries depend on water supplies. As water becomes scarcer, we see not only a decrease in the quality of life, but an increase in social conflict.
The same scenario will play out (and already does) for land and other non-renewable natural resources. These resources limit the number of people the earth can bear sustainably. This is why the rate at which the world population is growing, is such a serious ecological and social threat.
Just as the world’s natural resources are unequally distributed, the world population is also unequally distributed. High population numbers are associated with those regions where natural resources are generally more limited. Here the population increase is also the fastest, the consumption per person the lowest, and the negative impacts of growth most acutely felt.
At the current global population growth rate of 1.3%, there are 77 million more people living on this planet per year. Six countries alone are responsible for half of this growth: India (for 21%), China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
There has been a general decline in fertility in countries described as ‘developing’ (to an average of just under three children per woman – half of the 1969 figures), and the figure is expected to decrease further to 2.17 by 2045–2050.
But despite this trend, most of the projected growth in the world population will take place in developing countries. By 2050, 85% of the world population will be living in developing countries. (The comparative figure for industrialised countries is 1.6 children per woman.) The 49 ‘least-developed’ countries will almost triple in size. This level of growth will almost certainly have devastating effects for their environment and inhabitants, with rippling impacts on their neighbours and other countries to which people may migrate.
One of the effects of population growth can be seen in cities. As rural environments become less able to sustain people, an estimated 160 000 rural dwellers move to cities every day. This results in sprawling, densely populated urban areas under great social, economic and environmental stress.
City surroundings are depleted through concentrated extraction of resources ranging from water to firewood; the conversion of farmland or wetlands for housing, roads and shopping centres; and the spill-over of pollution, which is often worsened by local governments failing to provide the necessary facilities for the swelling numbers.
Do we have a problem in South Africa? Our population growth rate is slowing down – from 2.1% in 1975–2000, to a predicted 0.2% for 2000–2015. This figure takes deaths due to HIV/Aids into account. While HIV/Aids slows the growth rate (it would probably have been 1.4% in 2010 without HIV/Aids), the epidemic will probably not result in negative population growth (a smaller population). In 2000, our population was 43.3 million.
Is this a problem? Are there too many of us? For answers, we need to look towards the environmental resources, which must sustain us. In each locality, we need to consider whether that particular environment is able to support the people living in it. And critically, we need to ask whether current needs are being met adequately.
Our apartheid history has much to do with how the population has been distributed, and associated environmental degradation. In former Bantustan areas like KwaMhlanga and Transkei, too many people were forced to live in resource-poor areas with limited capacity to support their artificially high numbers. The effects on both the environment and people’s ability to sustain a livelihood were devastating. Looking for alternative livelihoods, many rural South Africans moved to cities, where the majority of us (56.9%) now live. Here informal settlements are expanding, often into sensitive or high-risk areas such as flood plains or waste dumps. Lacking resources, they contribute to environmental and health issues, e.g. pollution of ground water through untreated sewage. Local governments struggle to meet the demand for housing, water, sanitation, waste removal, transport and health services. Biodiversity is lost as remnants of indigenous vegetation are destroyed. Considering that the economic and ecological demands of our existing population are already straining the Earth’s capacity, and that many basic human needs are not yet met, can we afford to continue growing in numbers?
If we want to achieve a sustainable relationship between natural resources, development and human numbers, we need to consider the fact that many people still do not get a big enough slice of the cake, as well as the reality that the Earth’s cake is of a limited size. As we saw from the water example, natural resources are essentially fixed, and taking strain under the demands of consumption and growing populations.
Yes, we can produce more food and we should distribute resources more fairly and efficiently around the globe. This, along with reducing over-consumption and discarding discriminatory economics, can alleviate a great deal of hunger and hardship (see Topic ECONOMICS). Technological advances towards energyefficient and resource-light production can reduce resource use and pollution, but these steps will not reverse the impact of the population explosion. Something must be done to slow down population growth – but what?
The greatest threat to sustainable development is consumption; consumption is linked to unsustainable production and overconsumption among the consumer classes in both the north and south, and to population growth, particularly in the south. Different camps fight about who has the greater environmental impact – the rich over-consumers or the poor populationgrowers. The fight may just defer responsibility, however, because BOTH over-consumption and over-population must be addressed, if we are to achieve ecological sustainability and social justice – and we cannot deal with them as separate issues. The answer is not as simple as ‘family planning’ or reducing the number of pregnancies. We need to understand what will make family planning and fertility control possible and likely, from a social point of view, and how these factors can be addressed.
Most agencies involved in population development advocate a multi-faceted and integrated approach. They point out that high population growth rates are associated with poverty, environmental degradation, limited opportunities and unequal power relations. High fertility is still a feature of rural life in many areas, even when the rationale for having large families (needing many hands for harvesting, for example) are no longer valid.
In these situations women often do not have the power to choose the size and spacing of their family. Addressing these vicious cycles requires an integrated approach, in which family planning goes hand in hand with increasing women’s rights and their ability to exercise them, reducing poverty, protecting the environment and increasing livelihood options. These goals are all interrelated and cannot be separated from economic models and over-consumption (see Topic Poverty Alleviation).
2. Legal and community protection against sexual harassment and violence.
3. Education (in many parts of the world it is still unusual for girls to be educated).
4. Establishing women’s right to own land (many women farm without the ability to make decisions about the management of the land).
5. Reproductive health care (UN agencies lack funds to provide fertility control to all the people requiring it).
6. Adequate general health and social support, so that each child born can be treated with the necessary care and respect.
7. Reducing social strife and conflict so that life is no longer treated as ‘cheap’ anywhere on Earth.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Author: Glynn Morris ~ Agama Energy (Pty) Ltd
All of us use energy services in our daily lives. Many of these are based on grid electricity, which is essentially clean and convenient at the point of use in your home or office. However, grid electricity is only one form of energy and it has some rather significant disadvantages – one of which is that in South Africa it is derived from non-renewable and environmentally problematic sources of energy such as coal. And, as it turns out, our coal has particularly high local and global environmental impacts, being one of the dirtiest coals in the world.
Advantages of conventional grid electricity:
> Low cost – to the consumer
> It is clean at the point of use
> Wide range of interchangeable appliances available – both new and secondhand
> Status and a sense of modernity.
Disadvantages of conventional grid electricity:
> High consumption of non-renewable resources such as coal, uranium and gas
> High use of water in a water poor country (each unit of electricity generated consumes 1.25 litres of water)
> Health and safety issues relating to coal/uranium mining and gas/oil drilling and refining
> Land use issues relating to coal/uranium mining
> Damaging environmental effects of emissions – greenhouse gases and particulates
> Waste disposal issues relating to ash (from coal) and nuclear waste
> Visual impacts of overhead transmission lines across the country and
distribution lines in towns
> Centralisation of control and the associated dependencies.
Implicit in the question is the awareness that there are different options – other than electricity from Eskom or a local authority – i.e. you actually do have a choice. Secondly, it implies that each option is better or worse than others depending on the criteria – such as cost, convenience, environmental impacts, etc. Modern Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficient Options are technically mature, commercially established, readily accessible and they are more or less just as expensive (or cheap) as the conventional option of grid.
Typical renewable energy and energy efficiency options include:
> Natural lighting of your building, by allowing sunlight to enter the structure in a controlled and pleasant manner
> Solar heating of your building by orientation and better placement and shading of windows • Solar water heating
> Solar and/or wind generated electricity (whether connected to the grid or not).
Some of the benefits include:
> Energy savings – you can save energy, and hence natural resources,
which benefits everyone.
> Financial savings – by using less energy (energy efficiency) and substitution of one form of (non-renewable and expensive) energy to a another (renewable or cheaper) form.
> Reduced consumption of our natural resources.
> Operational security – renewable energy systems can be designed to provide better reliability than conventional grid systems, such as power for telecommunications, navigational beacons, etc.
> Diversity of supply – diversification of supply means there is less risk of experiencing a total loss of power, due to the sole source of energy (electricity) going down for some reason.
> Reduced or deferred infrastructure costs – including generation, transmission, distribution and maintenance.
> Environmental benefits – renewable energy systems do not degrade the environment to the same extent as nonrenewable systems.
> Social benefits – increased employment opportunities through manufacture, installation and operation of renewable energy systems.
The South African government has developed and published its energy policy in the form of the White Paper on Energy Policy of the Republic of South Africa (December 1998) and a White Paper on Renewable Energy (November 2003). These policy documents officially endorse and recommend the greater use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
What can you do to begin the process of shifting away from the use of non-renewable energy – Where does one start?
It is always difficult to start on a new path, but one of the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency is that you can start small and transform your energy utilization patterns and energy service systems slowly and within the constraints of your budget. The more you implement changes, the more monthly disposable income will become available (from the savings you make) for further investments in your energy transformation.
Introducing energy efficiency measures
Before looking at the ways in which you can transform your use of conventional grid energy, it is important to remember that, in terms of more sustainable energy efficiency practices, there is nothing that can beat the benefits of reducing your need for energy in the first place, through energy conservation and energy efficiency. Any activity which reduces the demand for energy saves our natural resources and also reduces wastes and emissions. Even homes or businesses, which currently use renewable energy, really do benefit from energy conservation and energy efficiency.
> Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs in lights which are used more than three hours per day.
> Install a timer switch and insulation on your geyser or convert your geyser to an instantaneous water heater (with no heat losses from stored water).
> Draught-proofing your building to reduce uncontrolled heat losses through air movement.
> Insulate your building.
> Maintain good fridge habits, including keeping the door seal in good condition; keeping your fridge 75% full all the time, with water bottles, to minimise the amount of warm air that enters the fridge to replace cooled air which ‘falls’ out when you open the door.
Introducing renewable energy systems
The key to the most cost-effective use of renewable energy systems is the matching of the energy services that you require with the capacities and characteristics of available technologies and systems. This is really true for any technology – computers, cars, music systems, etc.
Assess your real energy service needs (after having reduced the consumption of your existing energy supplies to more realistic levels, through energy efficiency measures and increased use of more efficient electrical appliances as above).
> Substitute or expand your range of energy supplies to utilise these more effectively, e.g. using solar cooking or bottled gas for cooking rather than electricity.
> Start to increase your overall use of renewable energy to reduce your use (and dependence) on non-renewable energy supplies.
> Monitor (and then manage) your consumption and the costs of this consumption (including social and environmental costs if you feel up to it) on an ongoing basis.
For access to information and suppliers, the best place to start is by contacting the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (as listed in the Enviropaedia.com Directory (www.enviropaedia.com).
The initial questions that you should enquire about include:
> The initial costs of supply and installation
> The operating and maintenance requirements
(even renewable energy systems need to be maintained)
> The levels of service which are offered
> The implications of upgrading (or downgrading) as your needs change
> The costs of ongoing maintenance
> The quality assurance for the equipment and for the installation contractor.
We hope you enjoy the experience of taking responsibility for your own energy service needs. Start small and play. The risks are small by comparison with entrusting your (and the Earth’s) future to others. Stand up to the fact that one third of all known species on Earth will have been wiped out by 2050, due primarily to global warming as a result of our current practices.